KALISPELL – A rundown old bus is putting a strain on the Kalispell Lakers baseball team — and they’re now asking for some community help.
The bus, which is over 10 years old, has broken seats, broken steps, and a leaking roof.
Lakers president and manager Toby Liechti says that the team desperately needs a new bus.
Lietchti has been with the Lakers for 13 years. First, as a player and coach and now as a board member, he has a special connection to the Kalispell Lakers and wants the team to succeed.
The Kalispell Lakers are one of the only teams that allow high school students to play since Kalispell schools don’t have baseball teams.
The Lakers are comprised of high school students and the team travels hundreds of miles for games — including sometimes to Canada.
Lietchi feels responsible for his player’s safety, and hundreds of miles in this bus isn’t safe.
“We’re hoping to avoid a big catastrophe. You know, we’ve had just little nicks and engine problems here and there, but she’s held together this long,” he told MTN News.
“But we’re trying to get ahead of the problem because the bus is in really bad shape. We’ve had all kinds of issues with it. We’ve had break-ins we’ve had foul balls hitting it and broken glass, transmission issues — everything. We’ve had it’s been a long ride for that bus and it’s time to find a new one,” he added.
Lietchti says that a new bus will cost the league around $100,000. While team members are raising money, the league is hosting a fundraiser — the Batter Up Bash — to hopefully buy a new bus by May.
The fundraiser will be on Friday, April 19 from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. at the Flathead County Fairgrounds. The event will feature former Seattle Mariners Bret Boone. Tickets are on sale now here.
Reporting by Maren Siu for MTN News